Surprising no one, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million on his contract, becoming a free agent at 32 years old.
Greinke previously expressed an interest in returning with the Dodgers next season, and the negotiating process began Friday with the club extending the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to the right-hander.
Given that Greinke can command a longterm contract on the open market, he’s expected to reject the Dodgers’ offer. Joining the Dodgers among the teams interested in signing Greinke are the Chicago Cubs, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:
The Cubs are open to signing a free agent tagged with a qualifying offer, viewing Zack Greinke as an intriguing option who should age well over time after opting out of a contract that would have guaranteed him three more years and $71 million.
Greinke is coming off the best season of his career, as he went 19-3 with a Major-League leading 1.66 ERAA, 225 ERA+ and 0.84 WHIP. He struck out 200 batters and walked 40 in 222.2 innings of work. In three seasons with the Dodgers, Greinke is 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA.
As a team, the Cubs are also coming off their best season in several years. They posted the third-best record in the Majors at 97-65 and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card game, and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series.
The Pirates and Cardinals were the two teams who ended 2015 with better regular-season records than the Cubs. Chicago’s postseason run came to a grinding halt against the streaking New York Mets, who swept the Cubs in the NL Championship Series.
Along with Greinke, the Cubs are believed to be interested in other big-name free agent starting pitchers. Namely Toronto Blue Jays left-hander David Price, who played under Cubs manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay.
Should the Cubs sign Greinke or any other player who was presented with a qualifying offer by their former club, Chicago would forfeit its top unprotected draft pick. The top 10 picks in the 2016 draft are protected, which doesn’t include the Cubs.
Meanwhile, a team losing a player whom they extended a qualifying offer to receives a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the 2016 draft.